DBPOWER C754 HD (VA0145) IP-Camera Review

DBPOWER C754
The DBPOWER C754 IP-camera caught our eye because of its very low price on Amazon, just £43 for an indoor/outdoor, day/night, LAN/Wi-Fi 1080p IP camera! It had to be worth trying at this price.

Specification

The camera is full HD and captures video and stills at 1920 × 1080 pixels. The camera has a 6mm lens, which means the field of view is quite narrow. I'm not aware of alternative lenses for this camera.

Initial Setup & Installation

The camera comes with no paper instructions, just a mini CD-ROM (which won't work in many laptop drives). You don't need this though. All the information required to set up the camera can be discovered and is documented here :-) The manual (download here) is not specific to this model but the web interface is the same.

Cables

Camera body and cable
The camera has a single cable exiting the body, with a block on the end and two more cable exiting this block. You might be able to disconnect this inside the camera but we haven't tried it. This means this block need to pass through any hole from the inside of your house. We measured this cable as 42cm from the base of the camera mount to the end of block.

The cable size and length is a challenge. Either you drill a 30mm hole to get the connector through or you hide the cable in a waterproof box nearby.

Power

One of the short leads above is a 12V 5.5/2.1mm power socket, to which the plug-in PSU is connected. This is good, because these are standard connectors we use in our smart home for dc power. In many installations you will need to use an extension lead. The PSU is rated at 1000mA and the lead is about 140cm long.

We measured current draw at ~230mA in normal operation and ~380mA with the IR LEDs on.

Reset Button

The other short cable coming from the block is a momentary reset button. Press and hold the reset button for at least 10 seconds to restore default settings and reboot. Press and hold the reset button for 3 seconds to set up the Wi-Fi by using WPS/QSS. Press the reset button briefly and the Wi-Fi indicator will flashes for a few seconds while the camera was connecting via the Wi-Fi connection. You can assess Wi-Fi signal intensity by the flash frequency, the faster flash, the stronger the signal.

Networking

We started with a LAN cable in the RJ45 socket and our network security monitor immediately spotted the new device and sent us a text message with its IP address and MAC address.

You need the camera's IP address to set it up and this can be found by looking at your router's admin interface or by using Smartphone or tablet apps such as iNet.

Our camera was allocated the IP adress using DHCP and it was 192.168.1.226. We changed it to a fixed IP address.

Security

Our camera had a sticky label on it with the administration user ID and password. You need these to set up the camera.

Admin Interface

hame page
We opened up a web browser to access the admin inteface at: http://192.168.1.226. Much of what we have read on the Internet says you need to use the IE browser with this camera but this is not true. We used Mozilla Firefox.

View mode 1 is designed for IE though and requires an Active X plug-in, which you can download from the camera.

Viewmode 2 did work though and seemed to be flash based.

From this screen you have three tabs:

  • Live video
  • Playback video - view stored images and video (more on this later)
  • Set Up - the configuration interface

Setup / System / Status

This tab shows the current number of connected users, the type of network connection (Wi-Fi or LAN) and the MAC address. It also shows the recording status and the SD/TF status, in our case 'No SD/TF'.

Setup / System / Time

This shows the current time, timezone and enabled NTP (network time protocol).

Setup / System / Pan & Tilt

This tab shows the options and controls but they don't apply to this camera.

Setup / System / Other

This tab controls the Wi-Fi and Status LEDs but these are not present on this model.

Setup / System / Multiple Settings

We are not sure what this tab is for but it looks like you can use the one user interface to have a split-screen view of up to four cameras. We are not sure why you would want to do this.

Setup / System / Maintenance

This tab enables reboot, scheduled reboots and backup/restore of settings. There is also an 'upgrade' option. It is a little bit worrying that you need to schedule reboots!

Setup / About

This tab shows/sets the device name (which can be overlaid on images/video) and the firmware versions. System Firmware = 00.01.01.0039, WebUI Firmware = 0.38.3.17.

Setup / Network / IP

This tab enables DHCP and fixed IP address settings, including DNS servers.

Setup / Network / Port

This tab enables the HTTP port to be changed. The default is port 80.

Setup / Network / Wi-Fi

This tab enables scanning and connection via Wi-Fi.

Setup / Network / UPNP

This tab enables control of UPNP port forwarding.

Setup / Network / DDNS

This tab enables control of dynamic DNS settings.

Network / RTSP

This tab enables control of the RSTP port and authentication.

Network / Onvif

This tab enables checking and setting of Onvif.

Setup / Network / FTP

This tab enables the camera to FTP captured images and video to an FTP server. This is the approach we use with our Home Control System (HCS). You can upload both still images and short video clips using this approach.

Although the interface provides an optional path field, you can't put anything in this. The root directory for FTP upload has to be set by the FTP account on the server. You also can't change the filenames used for uploaded files but it has a vaguely useful format of the form: ARC20161106090625.mp4. This is year, month, day, hours, minutes and seconds.

Setup / Network / SMTP

This tab enables the camera to email captured images and video to the chosen email destination.

Setup / Video & Audio / Video

This tab sets the supply frequency (50Hz or 60Hz) and the resolution, frame rate and bandwidth for the 3 defined streams. The 2nd stream seems to be fixed at 640 &215; 320 pixels and the 3rd stream at 320 &215; 160 pixels.

Setup / Video & Audio / Audio

This tab sets the microphone and speaker levels. The C754 device doesn't have a speaker. The microphone was set to 100% and the audio captured is very quiet and muffled. I guess this is to be expected with the microphone inside a waterproof housing.

Setup / Video & Audio / Image

This tab sets the brightness, contrast, saturation and hue of the captured image and video. We left these at the default (128) values. you can also usefully flip or mirror the image. This is handy if you have mounted the camera up-side down, i.e. to a roof.

Setup / Video & Audio / OSD

This tab sets the 'on screen display' features. You can set both a name to be displayed and/or the time. These are both useful in our view, especially as the camera can use NTP to keep the timestamp accurate.

Setup / Video & Audio / Nightvision

This tab allows you to dissbale the IR LEDs, which help provide a good image at night time. You can also set the light level point for when the LEDs will automatically switch on. This is a brightness value from 1 to 100. A value of 20 means 5 LUX. The lower the brightness value, the smaller LUX. The highter the brightness value, the bigger LUX. The deafult value is 20 but we are testing out different values to see what works best.

Setup / Security / User

This tab allows you to add, modify and delete users and to set or change their passwords. You must change the default admin password!

Setup / Security / IP Filtering

This tab allows you to whitelist and balcklist IP addresses and ranges of IP addresses that are allowed to access the camera.

Setup / Alarm / IO Detector

T.B.C.

Setup / Alarm / Motion Detection

It is not possible to fully set up motion detection without installing the HY_Player plug-in. We decided not to do this as it looked like a significant security risk.

The motion detection has four configurable detection areas or windows and associated sensitivity. We enabled Window 1 at 50% (without being able to set the winodw area) and it appeared cover the whole screen and enable motion detection to work as intended.

Setup / Alarm / Audio Detection

T.B.C.

Setup / Alarm / Alarm Action

Alarm action
This allows you to set what action occurs when motion detection triggers an alarm. This could be send email, FTP, store to memory card, etc.

The alarm trigger type is a little confusing and the on-screen help says:
Trigger independently: Trigger when detecting by any kind of trigger
Trigger jointly: Trigger when detecting some kinds of trigger simultaneously

Setup / Alarm / Alarm Time

This provides a graphical calendar with a 7-day view of when the camera is armed (responsive to triggers). You can set this in 15-minute periods.

Setup / Storage

These tabs relate to local storage using and SD-card but the C754 model does not support this capability.

Setup / Log

This tab provides a high level view of activity but it doesn;t really have enough detail to be useful. When setting up the FTP service we hit a few issues and there was nothing in the log to really help. It basically lists admin logins and changes of settings.

Features

Video Stream

You can view a video stream via the web management interface.

You can also view 3 video streams directly via RSTP:

  • rtsp://192.168.1.xxx/live/ch0 (1920 × 1080 pixels)
  • rtsp://192.168.1.xxx/live/ch1 (640 × 360 pixels)
  • rtsp://192.168.1.xxx/live/ch2 (320 × 180 pixels)

Still Images

Using HTTP still images can be accessed via:

  • http://192.168.1.xxx/mjpeg/snap.cgi?chn=0 (1920 × 1080 pixels)
  • http://192.168.1.xxx/mjpeg/snap.cgi?chn=1 (640 × 360 pixels)
  • http://192.168.1.xxx/mjpeg/snap.cgi?chn=2 (320 × 180 pixels)

Our Home Control System (HCS) captures still images when certain events happen using this approach.

Day / Night

The camera has an IR cut-off filter and IR LEDs to illuminate the view in darkness. At night, the view from the camera is black and white only.

IR LEDs
A light-level sensor in the camera determines when the IR LEDs come on to illuminate the field of view at night time. This photo (shot on an iPhone) is a pretty good reflection of what the human eye can see. There is a faint ring of red LEDs visible.

Mobile Apps

Cam Viewer

We have tested this camera with the Cam Viewer app and it works well. This is an old app we have used for a long time and there are other ones available.

Wi-Fi

When you can't run a cable, it makes a lot of sense to use a Wi-Fi connection but, it isn't ever going to be as reliable or provide as good performance.

This camera supports Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and also WPS/QSS one key Wi-Fi configuration.

Motion Detection

The motion detection works but we haven't be able to fully configure it. To be fair, this is because we don't want to install the plug-in that comes with the camera. It looks to be a security risk based on feedback we have seen.

FTP

The FTP service works well for video. We are still testing the stil image capture. It is not as powerful as the Axis IP cameras ww have, which allow you to capture multiple still images with a defined time period between them. Our Axis cameras also allow us to define a period before the trigger and a duration after the trigger.

DVR Software

The CD-ROM contains some DVR software apparently but, I'm not testing or using it. It works with Zoneminder (Linux open source). Most windows users prefer Blue Iris and Ispy.

Missing Features

Local Storage

The manual in and admin interface imply ability to store images on internal storage within the camera and we can view a few pictures captured and stored locally. The manual implies an internal SD/TF card slot too but we need to investigate this more.

IO Input

Some IP cameras have a digital input that can be used to connect things like a PIR sensor and can then use this as a trigger. The (generic) manual mentions this but this model doesn't have such a capability.

Summary

It's an outdoor, water-proof, 1080p camera with day/night capability and both wired and wireless connections for just £43! That is amazing value. It's actually quite good too, with a good set of features.

We don't like IP-cameras that are tied to vendor's cloud services. We want to have direct local access via our secure home network, for our Home Control System (HCS) and let it decide when to alert us and push images and video outside of our home. We also don't punch holes in our home firewall to enable direct and remote viewing, to improve security. This camera provides all the required interface needed to acheive this and fully meets our needs in this respect.

The user manual supplied with this camera is very poor. We have security concerns about the software supplied with it and in particular the plug-in required to use all of the features. This is based upon user reviews and feedback we have seen online.

We would like to be able to properly set up the motion detection and it would be really nice to be able to manually trigger the camera, to start a capture and FTP send. We are still investigating ways to do this. Our testing of the motion detection has also shown that it works with a video clip but we have yet to get it to trigger the sending of a still image.

The video quality captured is good but the audio is useless.

The manual mentions private areas. These are areas masked out in black to protect the privacy of neighbours, etc. The admin interface does not show this tab though.

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